Hwachae is one of Korea’s most popular drinks. It’s often seen as a traditional version of fruit punch as it’s made with a base of fruit juices, edible flower petals, and honeyed water with magnolias. In recent years, people have added carbonated drinks such as 7Up or Sprite to their Hwachae for an extra kick. Here is a list of all the different flavors and how you can make it yourself!
SuBak-HwaChae – Watermelon, With a Punch
Subak Hwachae is a classic staple and is commonly viewed as the original punch. It’s very common and the ingredients are simple making it easy to recreate at home for a party. First, take a watermelon and cut a small hole on the top. Use a spoon or a melon scooper to break up the inside of the watermelon and take out parts of it. Once the melon is more like a natural bowl, put seltzer water or soda of your choice. If you want it extra sweet, you can add sweeteners like sugar or honey. Finally add in ice cubes and the watermelon pieces you scooped out earlier. This drink is ideal for staying cool and for sharing during a hot Korean summer day.
AengDu-HwaChae – Cherries for the 5th of the 5th
Much like the watermelon version, Aengdu Hwachae is relatively easy to make as long as you have the right ingredients. First take a large drink container like a pitcher and add in cherries. Make sure you’ve taken out the cherry pits otherwise you’ll find them as you’re sipping away. If you are able to find Korean Cherries, also known as Nanking Cherries, it’s recommended that you add a lot of honey due to their sourness nature. Mix the cherries with sweetener and water or soda water and voila! You have made another version of hwachae. This drink is associated with the holiday Dano or Surit-Nal which is a Korean traditional holiday celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month every year. Dano is celebrated by North and South Korea and is a day of traditional games and spiritual customs.
Omija-Hwachae – Five Flavor Punch
Getting into a more challenging Hwachae, Omija-Hwachae is made with magnolia berries and takes a few extra steps but is definitely worth it. Omija is known as the five flavor berry as it contains the flavors of sour, sweet, salty, fragrant, and bitter. You’re going to need some dried Magnolia berries and add them to water until the color of the water turns pink. You can’t skip this step even if you use fresh berries as the water needs time to extract flavor out of the berries. Once the color has developed, sieve the liquid through a fine linen cloth to remove the dried berries. Then, pour the liquid into a container that will be used for serving. Typically, Omija – Hwachae is served with Korean pear or pine nuts on top. As with other types of Korean punch, this drink is ideal for keeping cool on hot summer days. Additionally, Koreans drink the tea thanks to its health benefits. It is known to improve kidney and liver health, keep skin beautiful, and increase circulation.
Yuja-HwaChae – A Taste of the South
Yuja-Hwachae requires the most ingredients and preparation out of all the types of punch covered in this article. Odds are, if you aren’t in Korea, you might not be able to find all the required inputs. First, you need yuja which is a Korean fruit that belongs to the citrus family. It only grows in the South of the Korean Peninsula in places like Goheung, Wando, Geoje, and Namhae. You’ll also need Korean pear and either pomegranate or pine nuts. Cut the yuja into quarters, remove and zest the rind to save it for later. Much like you would peel an orange, be careful not to rip any of the inner flesh. Peel apart all of the segments of the yuja but leave the center column with seeds attached. Peel and remove the white membrane on the inside. Next, take the Korean pear and peel it carefully so that you don’t lose chunks of the fruit. Slide the pear finely and place it next to the rind zest. In a large drink container, add sugar, water, and the sliced pear and yuja zest. Let the drink sit for at least 30 minutes to soak up all the natural flavors and scent of yuja. Finally, add the pomegranate and/or pine nuts before serving.
Yuja-hwachae is not a very complex drink but it is enjoyed by the Korean Royal Court and is often associated with high stature and class. Today, it is often seen as a drink popular in Autumn or to celebrate Summer.